Jared glances across the table at me. We look at Beren who is seated between us. He raises a fork to his mouth again and again. Perfectly. Rice, peas, chicken. He pokes a piece of lettuce and swabs it across a pool of dressing. All in perfectly. He's quiet, concentrated.
Jared and I catch each others eyes. I raise my eyebrows, which I've been trying to cut down on since I noticed the creases in my forehead deepening. Still, it's worth a micron of wrinkle depth - our child peacefully eating.
No running around the table. Not him, not us with a fork holding a morsel of food. Please eat, aren't you hungry? You were so cranky just moments before we "sat" to eat. No standing on his seat. No sliding off his seat and clambering back up. No me wondering what manners I was teaching, or not, my young child.
I really must stop being so worried. I must stop wondering on the future. Things usually work out.
Impeccable, especially if it's ice cream. A bowl of ice cream is eaten steadily, impeccably. "MMmm." A spoonful goes in. Clink. Spoon against bowl. "Hhhmm. MMmmm." Clink. "MMMmmmm." Jared and I smile. "Is that good?" I ask. "MMMMmmm. That's GOOD!"Beren answers.
We're thankful that Beren has broadened his ability to sit for a meal, making mealtime far more relaxing. I long repeated to myself a friend's quip, "There's no sound a child dislikes more than a sound of a parent's fork scraping across a plate." He's a grandfather. He knows. Sitting for a meal was riotous for quite some time.
Tonight's dinner was a bit of a recap of mealtimes of yore. After a couple bites, Beren hopped down and filled his bear cart with a variety of items. "I'm picking up garbage." Books, new Crocs, scraps of paper, the essential (and very small) pin that locks our trailer to the hitch, etc.
I extend forkfuls of food to him each time he passed nearby. "Orange rice? Beet triangle? Orange rectangle [paneer]?" Each was accepted until the beet quota was met. "Would you like to sit on my lap and eat?" No answer. More garbage went into the cart. Clink. The sound of metal. "Was that my [wedding] ring?" Jared asks Beren.
When Beren occasionally tells me he doesn't like our new house, and that he'd like to put "the red house in the attic" of our current house, I can hardly imagine why. Wild dinners with a jack-in-the-box child? Mold levels that had mother and child chronically (and mysteriously) ill? Renting? Well, that's all my experience.
It takes all my three and half years of learning to be a parent to say, "Yes, the red house is a special place. Do you miss it?"
"Mm hmm," Beren murmurs plaintively. I hug him close.
"What do you miss about it?"
He seems satisfied. So am I.
He sits for meals. Could it be the magic of a new place? Or, the cushion on his chair? Growth spurt?